ABA Techniques for Parents, Teachers and Technicians (RBTS)



ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), which in the past was called behavior modification, is the application of behavioral psychology to modify the behavior of people (and some animals), especially as part of the process of education or treatment.

See the wiki article which is summarized below 

Behavior Analysts focus on the relation of observable stimuli in the environment and not on mentalisms or hypothetical constructs. Behaviorists analyze the function of the relationship between  the behavior of interest, or target behavior and the environment, then choose among various techniques to change the behavior.

Behavior analysis has had great success working with children on the Autistic spectrum. Also ABA has been used successfully in many areas including AIDs prevention, business management, education, gerontology, health, fitness, industrial safety, aquiring language, educating children, psychotherapy,  use of seatbelts, caring for mental disorders,  sports, reducing drug abuse, and working with animals.


ABA is the science in which the principles of behavior analysis are applied in a systematic manner to improve important behaviors, and which uses experimentation to identify the factors that change behavior. It is one of the three areas of Behavior Analysis. The two others are Conceptual Behavioral Analysis, or philosophy of science and the experimental analysis of behavior, or basic experimental research.


B.F. Skinner revised the  traditional theory of behaviorism in the  30s, and developed the modern form that is called behavioral analysis.

At times people using behavior modification tried to use various techniques without knowing the functions of the target . In ABA we try harder to analyze the function of the behavior. The change to the name ABA began in 1968 when the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis began to publish.

Within ABA there are various groups of techniques that use acronyms to identify themselves such as OBM, SWPSIS, CBA, EIBI and PRT, but all the techniques they use are ABA techniques.

Dr Lovaas had great success at UCLA working with autistic children, so much so that people outside the field called his group of techniques the Lovaas method. Other people called his group of techniques ABA, but his techniques are just parts of ABA. His work resulted in the US adopting ABA for all the children with autism in the public schools, and for the management of behavior roblems. This probably be extended to the management of the school system in general. 


Baer, Wolf y Risley (1968) spoke of seven dimensions of ABA.

ABA is:

Applied. It focuses  on areas important to people. It considers how changing behaviors will affect the student and the people they know.

Behavioral. It is necessary to measure behaviors to demonstrate there have been changes.

Analytic. ABA focuses on the function of the target behavior.

ABA tries to show experimental control over the behavior by being able to change it.

Technological.  The techniques in the literature are described clearly. Behavior Analysts then can read the literature, and get the same effect in the community

Conceptually Systematic. We use the same terms in our plans as are used in the literature) although we may also use plain language to help others understand them.

Effective. We continue to measure target behaviors and graph the results to see and demonstrate what result we are having.

General. The effects of ABA last for a long time, in different environments, including new environments the student encounters.

In 2005 Heward et al proposed  5 more  important characteristics 

Accountability: Analysts continually check their graphs and change plans based on the changes they see.

Public. ABA is clear in everything its doing. Nothing is hidden.

Practical: It is not necessary for everyone who works on a plan to be an analyst, and different people can be trained to do certain parts of the plan.

Empowers: By seeing the good effect of their work, analysts and those they work with gain confidence in their methods.

Optimistic: ABA says that we can change almost every human behavior, including the most difficult .

Some Concepts of ABA include: behavior, operant conditioning, respondent conditioning, environment, reinforcement, punishment, extinction, discrimination, 3 term contingency (ABC), verbal behavior, measurement of behavior, and functional assessment.

Many other techniques ,and all required for the new BACB course to qualify to be a behavioral technician can be found on this website, divided into the major groupings of techniques.  

You can write me at with any questions about this material. I am a BCBA.


There are many job opportunities for people interested in working in ABA, particularly with autistic children. A good way to prepare for these is to complete the course to qualify to be a RBT explained below. You can start by studying this site. RBTs always work under the supervision of behavior analysts.

Parents might be interested in completing our RBT course  (based on the Programmed Instruction method of programmed learning developed by Dr Skinner) and then working under the supervision of a certified behavior analyst (BCBA or BCABA) This approach can be very useful if you are not covered by health insurance for ABA services. If you live in an area where there are not many behavior analysts, you can be supervised remotely by skype calls. We offer that service.

Also, look at the website for the BACB, for information or to find a certified person in your area:

If you live in an area where there are not many behavior analysts, you can be supervised remotely by skype calls. We offer that service.

If you have a masters degree or would like to earn one, there are many university courses, including distance courses, that can help you earn the BCBA certification. They also are listed on the BACB site.


For this site in spanish, go to:


For our sister site in french, go to:


My site for $10 CEUs and (RBT training) is


We have prepared 40 hour course (required by the BACB for registration as a technician) , consisting of this site and some additional reading. The RBT course is appropriate for some teachers (others might want to become BCBAs) and all technicians (those that carry out training or therapy) This training is based on the Registered Behavior Technician Task List and is designed to meet the 40-hour training requirement for the RBT credential. The program is offered independent of the BACB. Cost is only $80 (discounts apply to various countries) per person, and we can do your checkoff for the RBT for $120 (Or you could have your current supervisor do it ).


Recommended Books on ABA for beginners:

Progress without Punishment (Donnellan and Lavigna)

How to Think like a Behavior Analyst (Bailey and Burch)

Dont Shoot the Dog! (Pryor)


For educators, I especially recommend:

The Technology of Teaching (Skinner)

The Technology of Teaching Revisited (Barrett)


Now that we have $100 (or less!) teaching machines available (tablets), it is time to turn again to programmed learning, direct instruction and PSI. See these wiki pages: (we use PI for our RBT course)





Below are various videos demonstrating ABA techniques on YouTube. YouTube is a Little difficult to navigate, and includes some very bad material that resembles ABA, but you can trust those listed on this site.

Intro to ABA

Seven characteristics of ABA

Discrete Trials


ABA is not limited to treatment of autism, but is useful in all difficult learning situations. But here is the best explanation of the cause of autism in scientific terms:

Cause of Autism:





For those of you who are search engines RBT, ABA free resources, info parents teachers